As you can imagine, the next few days will be focused on promoting Hope & Glory, my steampulp game of exotic adventure. I will try to do this while staying true to the themes and purposes of my blog, because I know not everybody’s a roleplayer out there.
And for a change I will talk books.
Yesterday night, with my co-author Umberto Pignatelli and my publisher Gionata Dal Farra, we tried to make a list of influences for Hope & Glory, and the list went on forever.
So, here’s a brief reading list, covering fiction.
I’ll do another post about the non-fiction, later.
I have often said that the two authors that most influenced my game are Talbot Mundy and R.S. Stirling.
Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers is a science-fictional take on Talbot Mundy’s themes and characters, and it’s a lot of fun. I always thought it a pity the novel did not have sequels or spin-offs, and the original games of Hope & Glory, thrown together almost ten years ago using the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition handbook and a lot of notes, were my attempt at getting more of Stirling’s universe.
And then of course Talbot Mundy – The Nine Unknown make an appearance in Hope & Glory, and the JimGrim and Jasmini stories are an endless source of inspiration.
And what’s great is, you can get them all for free on Project Gutenberg (), or buy them on Kindle real cheap.
Michael Moorcock’s Nomad of the Time Streams is another book that weighs heavily on the development of Hope & Glory, in particular its first novel, Warlord of the Air. It is also likely that other Moorcock-ish elements filtered in the setting – like the Russian’s penchant for using the needle gun as a weapon of assassination.
During the design process, I also read a lot of Victorian and Edwardian science fiction – that once again comes with the extra perk of being usually available for free.
Kipling’s ABC Stories are just as influential as his tales about the Great Game, and both Kipling and descendants are featured as characters in the setting.
H.G. Wells contributed with The Shape of Things to Come – but I admit I liked the Alexander Korda movie better. And the seeds of the division of humanity in Eloi and Morlocks described in The Time Machine are at work in the world of Hope & Glory.
I will say nothing about the Martians. Not here. Not yet.
I did steal a few characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Challenger novels.
George Griffith is not in the top list of authors I like, but his Angel of the Revolution is there on the (virtual) shelf, and will come in handy when we’ll start writing the Russian Empire sourcebook.
The same goes for M.P. Shiel, whose The Purple Cloud is here waiting to make an appearance.
But back to contemporary writers.
Geoffrey Barlough’s series of stories set in a post-glacial world in which the region of Talbotshire is the last surviving piece of Victorian world are not as popular as they should be.
I really can’t recommend Barlough’s work strongly enough, and it had a massive influence on Hope & Glory when it came to compiling the bestiary. The main difference is, the Talbotshire stories feature a strong element of supernatural horror that is not present in Hope & Glory.
M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavillions was another big influence, and a pleasant discovery – I had it classified as a romance (in the worst sense of the word) for ages, and when I finally read it, I discovered a solid historical novel, a great adventure story and a very even-handed description of the Raj.
The Corps of Guides figures prominently in the novel, and gets a full write-up in my game.
Again in the historical novels field, I need to mention John Masters and his books set in India: The Deceivers, Bhowani Junction, Nightrunners of Bengal and in particular The Ravi Lancers. Most titles are available in ebook, so check out your dealer – they are great reads, intelligent and insightful.
I don’t need to mention Flashman, Flashman in the Great Game and Flashman and the Mountain of Light, by George MacDonald Fraser.
For the same reason I will not spend a lengthy paragraph on Edgar Rice Burroughs.
And then there are the El Borak stories by Robert E. Howard, probably still my favorite character in REH’s catalog ever since i discovered a small yellowed paperback when I was still in high school. High adventure, lost cities and the North Western Frontier. You can’t go wrong there. Sure, that’s Howard playing at being Talbot Mundy, but what the heck, isn’t this what we are talking about?
And for last I saved Emilio Salgari, Italy’s master of adventure, that between the 19th and the early 20th century wrote about Malaysian pirates, Indian snake hunters, assorted adventurers and even a dash of science fiction.
But about Salgari I will write a post apart.
Did I forget someone?
Let’s talk about it in the comments.